If you could work from anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Your living room? California? Chicago? Your cabin? A co-working space? Heck, what about a beach in Mexico? Well, I have tried them all and I am here to tell the tale.
According to research by Intuit, nearly 25% of U.S. workers telecommute for at least a few hours every week. Today, 67% of companies allow at least some employees to work at home according to the Wall Street Journal. Entrepreneurs show even higher rates of remote work with 69% getting started at home, according to the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report. Oh, and in case you still aren’t convinced, here are 10 good reasons why working remotely makes sense.
I have been working remotely, in some capacity, for the last three years. Some say I am spoiled, or that I don’t actually work according to my Facebook posts…
Below are the four best practices from my experience.
1 – Build a Business that Supports Remote Working
This seems obvious. Your work needs to be “remote-workable.” If your industry requires in-person meetings, ask yourself if you can group those meetings into specific days in the week, or month, and use the other days to work remotely. Ask yourself if some of your in-person meetings are better suited for video conferencing or a phone call.
In my law practice, I have never met about 25% of my clients in-person and that works out just fine. The initial call, representation agreement, invoicing, payment and follow up communications are all done electronically. Of course, some situations demand in-person meetings, but the first question I always ask before accepting a case is whether it fits into my remote-working goal.
Also, you will need to take extra precautions for information in industries that have sensitive information involved such as protected health information, banking, legal or otherwise confidential information. Some work may demand a secure office setting. This topic deserves its own article, because mismanagement of confidential information could expose you to legal issues.
2 – Utilize Technology to Support your Work
Your arsenal of technology will support your success. Again, I want technology that will support remote working. For me, that means a completely paperless law office as well as a healthcare startup that does not require in person work at all. Every document is scanned in, secured and accessible remotely. If a client sends me a proposal for work, I am able to execute a representation agreement, an invoice, open the documents and start reviewing from a beach in Mexico in less than 10 minutes.
Here is my current set up (which is by no means perfect):
- Phone and Fax – RingCentral
- Video Conferencing – Skype and Google Hangouts (but rarely used)
- Cloud Storage and File Organization – Google Drive and Organized Gmail folders
- Scanning – TurboScan App Premium and ScanSnap Scanner
- Invoicing and Accounting – Quickbooks Online
- Signing Agreements – SignNow
- Editing PDFs – Adobe Premium
- Human Resources Management – Zenefits (they all work remotely)
3 – Reliable Internet and Phone Coverage
So sitting on a beach in Mexico or at the lake up north seems like a great idea, but your work productivity will likely depend on reliable internet and phone coverage. Always carry backup work that does not require internet or phone service. Unfortunately, I have had many problems with internet connections at remote locations, in addition to finding quiet space to take a phone call.
4 – Set Boundaries with Loved Ones
One thing I have truly enjoyed about remote working is extending (and taking more) vacations. If you plan on working during a vacation, you need to clearly communicate this to loved ones. Unfortunately, having the computer open does not automatically signal “I’m working, please do not disturb.”
Inevitably, you will get distracted and loved ones will pull you away from work. This is simply a small price to pay for the freedom you’ve commanded.
I am confident that you can integrate remote working into your life! Feel free to reach out and connect to me to discuss more. I am always interested in hearing about other’s journeys in remote working and how they make it work!
I am a University of Minnesota Alumni (2010, Biomedical Engineering) and a 2013 Mitchell Hamline School of Law Alumni.